Seasonal Sicilia – Le Fragole

I just had to use the Italian word for strawberries.  Isn’t it it great? Actually, what I have been particularly in love with recent is the fragolina.  Obviously, it sounds even cuter than a fragola but that isn’t the only reason. Let me explain.

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Fragoline, or wild strawberries are quite widely available in Sicily I don’t ever recall seeing them in Northern Italy. I think they are officially called Italian Alpine Strawberries (which makes me wonder if I just missed out on them when we were living in Friuli?!). They are not as plentiful as the average strawberry but you can still buy them here relatively cheaply. They are very popular in pasticcerie, decorating pasticcini (little pastries or cake) or mignon, as they are called here.  I don’t think I had ever eaten wild strawberries before.  They are softer and have a stronger flavour than other strawberries. They are sweet and perfumed – you expect them to be sickly sweet, but they’re not.
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The primary way in which we have been consuming fragoline is as an accompaniment to pancakes in the morning.  They have replaced our previous first choice – blueberries – and make a delicious breakfast.  However, we have also been using Italian Alpine strawberries in our current favourite cocktail – a Strawberry and Mint Martini. Ooh decadent!

Strawberry and Mint Martini (serves 2)

  • Gin
  • Vermouth
  • A punnet of Italian Alpine/wild strawberries (or any ripe strawberries available)
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves.
  • Ice

 

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Put a couple of strawberries in the bottom of each martini glass.  If you don’t have wild strawberries, I would probably be inclined to just make an incision into a single strawberry and put it on the rim of the glass as a a decoration.  Place the rest of the strawberries, the whole mint leaves (don’t tear them!) and about 35 ml of Vermouth.  Using a wooden spoon, bash the strawberries and mint to extract as much juice as possible.

Note: If you are using regular strawberries, it might be an idea to crush them separately and then strain some of the mixture through a sieve.  Not all of it though because you do want some seeds and fruit pieces in your drink.

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Add the ice and 150ml of Gin to the cocktail shaker, put the lid on and give it all a good shake. I know that a classic Martini should always be stirred and never shaken. When making a “proper” Martini, that is what I do, but I think that when you start to add things like strawberry and mint you are messing with the original recipe anyway so you can feel free to shake away!

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Leave the cocktail shaker to stand for a couple of minutes and then pour into the glasses.  Because of the crushed fruit, you may need to give the shaker a few extra shakes to be able to pour out all of the cocktail.

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What I particularly like about this drink is that it is not to sweet and the mint keeps the flavour really fresh.  If you possibly can, I think you owe it to yourself to drink in the sunshine!

Wishing you all a happy weekend.

 


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